Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Mastery Charter School at Thomas Campus Graduate of: University of Pittsburgh
Abigail Meinen is a writer and artist born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Ohio. In 2018 they graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where they majored in English writing with a concentration in poetry and completed research in gender and religious studies. In 2016 they began teaching with the Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education, an organization dedicated to serving English language learners and building confidence and community through the arts. Abigail also served as editor of Sampsonia Way Magazine, a literary magazine focused on social justice and global freedom of expression, from 2017-2018. They were a 2017 fellow for the Poetry Foundation’s Emerging Poets Incubator. Their writing explores themes of gender, trauma, queerness, the body, and backyard gardens. They are at work on a collection of poems and visual art titled: The Unofficial Young Person’s Guide to Disappearing by Means Other Than Fire. Abigail believes deeply in the power of language, creativity, youth, and community, and is thrilled to be serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Philadelphia.
Visual Artist & Printmaker
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: William C. Longstreth School Graduate of: College of Charleston
Alana Harris is a visual artist who received her Bachelor of Art from the College of Charleston in 2017, with a concentration in Printmaking. Originally from South Carolina, Alana moved to Philadelphia after graduation to complete a year of service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program. As a VISTA Volunteer, she served as the Community Partnership Coordinator for the Office of the Arts and Academic Enrichment within the School District of Philadelphia. The position provided her with extensive experience in forging connections between local arts partners and Philadelphia public schools. She hopes to capitalize on the knowledge and experiences she gained there and share it with her students and school community during her time as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow.
Her artwork has been on display in galleries and shows throughout Charleston. In addition, she has served as a mentor and a Youth Advisory Board Member for We Are Family. She has volunteered and taught as an assistant with HOPE Worldwide as well. Alana is excited to be serving in a classroom setting where she can continue to use art as a vital tool for community building.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: James G. Blaine School Graduate of: Albright College
Ana Bass loved drawing animals since childhood, but developed an interest in drawing comics as a teenager. In 2014, she graduated from Albright College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts. Ana has extensive experience in community service, having volunteered as an assistant with various art classes and programs for years. Most recently, she served as a volunteer mentor with Mighty Writers in Philadelphia, working one on one with students and assisting with monthly creative writing projects.
Ana is currently working on a comic book memoir about her ethnic identity and adoption experience. In addition to appreciating comics, she loves to paint with watercolor, acrylic, gouache, and ink, and making collages and illustrations with chalk and oil pastels. During her time as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow she hopes to inspire young minds, learn from her students and partner teachers, and provide a positive good humor.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Frankford High School Graduate of: Drexel University
Andrea Rose Cardoni is a recent graduate from Drexel University with a B.S in Secondary Education with Concentration in English. She was a Drexel Co-op Theatre Company Member and Theatre Performance Scholarship Recipient which is given to artists who show excellence and promise in their work in the company. Through this she has had numerous performance opportunities, with some of her favorite roles as Heidi in [title of show], Ronette in Little Shop of Horrors, and Rhonda/Sandrine in Almost, Maine. She has also held production roles in the company, such as the Assistant Voice and Speech Coach for The Diary of Anne Frank and the Assistant Choreographer in Godspell. She is very grateful to have had ample opportunities through the Drexel Co-op Theatre Company to strengthen her own craft and learn to help other artists grow in their own. Along with stage work, she is very active in the local film community with her most recent credit as Lucy in Goodboy Jeans’ production of Huff, which premiered in June 2018.
She is so excited to serve as an ArtistYear Americorps Fellow to bring her experience and love for teaching and performance to the Philadelphia community!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: S. Weir Mitchell School Graduate of: University of Connecticut
Angie Bacha is a Connecticut native who has a passion for combining theatre and activism into the education system. Theatre has been a part of Angie’s life for as long as she can remember. However, it was not until she spent nine months in Paris, France during her Theatre Studies at the University of Connecticut that she recognized the need and opportunity for the arts to be a voice for social justice. This was the first time she had truly witnessed the daily struggles of urban homelessness, and she decided to do something about it. When she returned to the U.S., Angie added a second degree: Human Rights. From there, she began volunteering and interning vigorously–at Big Brothers Big Sisters, My Brothers Keeper Food Pantry, The No Freeze Center homeless shelter, Speak Truth To Power, and other organizations all over the country through a service year with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. All the while, she used her skills in directing, playwriting, and dramaturgy to create community-building theatre projects, disseminate information, gain insight, and organize a collective. When she is not volunteering or taking part in her art, Angie can be found laughing with her longform improvisation buddies, attempting not to fall over in her yoga practice, obsessing over food, and losing herself in new music on Spotify. Angie is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Visual Artist, Sculptor
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Olney School Graduate of: Tyler School of Art, Temple University
Pennsylvania-native and visual artist Cassie Donohue is best known for her sculptures made from cinder blocks, wood pallets, and other industrial materials. She studied at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, earning her BFA in 2017. In September 2017, Cassie displayed her work at Pilot Projects for their IDLE HANDS: Further Adventures in Metaphysical Arbitrage: 100 Years of the Readymade exhibition. Cassie then worked for Monkey Boys Productions, where she created props for live shows including Little Shop of Horrors, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show, and Saturday Night Live.
Art and arts education have played an integral role in her personal development, career path, and overall evolution. Drawing on her experiences as a teaching assistant at volunteer organizations, she hopes to make a significant impact on the development of people’s lives through the arts—in schools and within communities.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Alexander Adaire School Graduate of: University of Pennsylvania
David Marchino is a Philadelphia-based creative nonfiction writer and educator, whose work has appeared in The Penn Review and RKVRY Quarterly. His essay “No Goodbyes” won the 2016 Penn PubCo Award for Best First-Person Narrative, and his personal narrative “Going Places” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart. In 2016, he received a BA in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. His short manuscript He Will Be Remembered earned honors from the University’s creative writing program.
David has organized and lead many creative writing workshops, including a memoir workshop for Alzheimer’s caregivers in collaboration with the Penn Memory Center. He has worked as Assistant to the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania and as Assistant to the Director of Recruitment at the Kelly Writers House. Most recently he served as Assistant Director of the Summer Workshop for Young Writers at the Kelly Writers House. David is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: William T. Tilden School Graduate of: George Washington University
Elizabeth graduated from George Washington University in May 2018 with a Bachelor Degree in International Affairs, with a concentration in comparative political, economic, and social systems, and a minor in Film. She spent two semesters abroad, studying film production in Prague and development, politics, and language in Ecuador. Throughout college she worked as a freelance photographer and interned for various government, private sector, and non-profits including: National Geographic, the White House (during the Obama administration), Thrive DC, and most recently at the Albright Stonebridge Group. This past summer she worked in Europe as a photography instructor at a travel company, Travel for Teens.
Her undergraduate thesis, “The Streets We Share,” was a portrait series that focused on transience and defining community between GW students and neighbors in the Foggy Bottom area. Elizabeth sees photography as storytelling, with each compositional, framing, and editing choice creating a narrative. She is a believer in the healing and transformative power of art and that all schools should look at art education as a crucial part of a child’s education. Elizabeth is honored to take on the responsibility to provide arts education to her own students this year—and is super excited to be in Philly and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Visual Artist, Illustrator
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Joseph W. Catharine School Graduate of: Emmanuel College of Boston
Originally from Massachusetts, Emma Cross is an art historian and studio artist, and graduate of the Emmanuel College of Boston. Through her work in museums and various other arts institutions, Emma has found a passion for community engagement through the arts. Leveraging the arts and museum education, Emma’s goal is to provide equal and exemplary programming access to the arts to communities on the periphery of the traditional art-world. In her studio practice, Emma loves to experiment with numerous mediums and forge connections between contemporary topics and illustration. Her work is largely informed by the technical and stylistic elements of modern artists from van Gogh and Hopper to Wyeth. During her time as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow, Emma hopes to provide students with the tools and opportunities to expressive themselves, and to communicate their personal stories through art.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Academy for the Middle Years at Northwest Graduate of: Drexel University
Gabriela (Gabi) Montoya graduated magna cum laude from Drexel University in 2018 with a BS in Dance, and double minors in Psychology and Somatics. Gabriela is excited to teach dance in Philadelphia public schools as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow, to bring her experience and education in dance, somatics, and trauma-informed practices into schools for wider access to kinesthetic, artistic understanding, and expression.
During her time at Drexel, Gabi danced in FreshDance and the Drexel Dance Ensemble, and choreographed two pieces for the Ensemble. Gabi also received an award for outstanding participation in community-based learning. She taught dance classes at the Dornsife Center and completed her senior project with youth dancers at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Gabi had the incredible opportunity to study in Drexel’s first study abroad dance track at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London in Summer 2016.
Over the past four years, Gabi danced in Drexel’s Youth Performance Exchange Touring Ensemble and volunteered at HMS school for Children with Cerebral Palsy for Wheelchair Dance. Gabi enjoyed taking other community-based learning courses including Politics of the Body, an Inside Out class at Riverside Correctional Facility, Yoga at The Kirkbride Center for addiction rehabilitation, and Storytelling Through Mural Arts at ACHIEVability. Gabi did her co-op with ArtWell, a nonprofit organization empowering youth in Philadelphia though arts education.
Gabi has completed the 450 Hour Comprehensive Drexel Pilates Training Program and continues to enjoy teaching Pilates.
Visual Artist, Sculptor
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Alexander K. McClure School Graduate of: Tyler School of Art, Temple University
Genevieve Naklicki is a graduate of Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Sculpture. She is a visual artist who works primarily in fiber materials, creating large scale embroidered portraits of people she has encountered. She loves to have long conversations with strangers and then create pieces based off of those discussions. Her work often involves experimentation with different techniques and materials. She has shown in galleries throughout Philadelphia, as well as in Rome, Italy.
In addition to completing her own artistic work, Genevieve is passionate about arts education as she believes the act of creation can help foster a strong sense of self. Genevieve sees the youth as the future and strength of our communities—as such, teaching them to find value in art is both important and beautiful to her.
On the weekends you can find her selling smaller scale embroideries at Craft Festivals in the Philadelphia area. When not making art, she can be found doing Yoga, or playing guitar. Genevieve is also a member of the Lansdowne Arts Board. Genevieve is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Architect & Visual Artist
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Roberto Clemente School Graduate of: University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Originally from Miami FL, Ilana Gutierrez grew up with four wonderful sisters and two loving parents. Throughout her childhood they did quite a bit of traveling to different parts of the country. This experience sparked her love of traveling, meeting people, and learning about different cultures. She had the opportunity to attend Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania while also studying abroad in Florence, Italy for a semester. Her experience studying in Europe was by far one of her most valuable as she pushed her boundaries and learned how to effectively communicate. While there she learned more about herself, the people, and the culture. As an architect, it was amazing for her to see in person the buildings that she had studied in school.
During her studies, Ilana decided to transfer to a new school in order to gain insight with different perspectives, colleagues, and resources. This opportunity allowed her to experiment in different environments and to challenge myself further. Her fifth year of architecture school concluded at University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where she received a Bachelor of Architecture. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and worked at Rothschild Doyno Collaborative for nearly three years. She relished in collaborating with creative, intelligent, and big-hearted colleagues.
Ilana is proud to join as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Philadelphia to push herself and make an impact while inspiring the youth through arts programs.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Samuel Powel School
Graduate of: University of Hartford
Jackie Nevitt is a violinist from Silver Spring, Maryland. She discovered her passion for music as a young child while attending concerts and masterclasses with her father. In May 2017 she received her Bachelor’s of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Hartford, Hartt School of Music, where she studied under Katie Lansdale and Mickey Reisman. While there she performed in the Hartt Orchestra, Hartt Collegium Chamber Orchestra, several chamber groups, and numerous pit orchestras of operas and musicals. Her summer festival experiences include Eastern Music Festival and three seasons at the Brevard Music Center. In 2013, she was a part of the National Symphony Orchestra Young Associates’ Program. She is extremely excited to serve as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Philadelphia!!
Actor & Dancer
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Cook-Wissahickon School Graduate of: Temple University
Janae Rockemore is an actress, dancer, and educator. She is a proud Philadelphia native and Temple University alum with a BA in Theater and Spanish. She has always exuded a zeal for art. When Janae was nine years old, she hit the stage for the first time as part of Philadanco’s annual dance recital and knew that performing art was her calling. She has been performing ever since.
Janae recently completed a service year as an AmeriCorps Pennsylvania Campus Compact VISTA GEAR UP member at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). During her service, she recruited and trained college students from UPenn and Drexel University to serve as tutors and mentors for West Philadelphia High School students.
She has played in multiple productions, including For Colored Girls…, BlackBerry, and has starred as Beneatha Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. Janae is grateful for the art educators who have poured their efforts into her throughout the years. She is thrilled to be able to pour her own efforts into young artists during her time as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Philadelphia.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Paul Robeson High School Graduate of: Drexel University
Jasmine James is a writer and native of Philadelphia. From summers with her grandparents in North Philly, to high school in Lower Merion, and college in University City, she spent years exploring, gravitating towards, and honing her passion for self-expression through essays and poetry.
During her undergraduate career at Drexel University (BA English ‘18), Jasmine grew more involved with community writing. She volunteered at Mighty Writers West as a mentor working one-on-one with young writers and lead workshops for larger groups of children. Most recently, she was one of 18 writers-in-residence on TRIPOD at Writers Room, a year-long writing and photography project that brought together Drexel undergraduates, senior community members, and local high schoolers to collaborate on telling their shared stories of living in West Philadelphia. For her senior capstone project, she envisioned opening a community writing center to serve the educational and cultural needs of the youth in Philadelphia.
Through her work, Jasmine hopes to spread a love of writing and spend her life encouraging younger people to use writing as a source of escape and fulfillment. In the future she wants to make her dream of opening her own writing center a reality. Jasmine is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: F. Amedee Bregy School Graduate of: Appalachian State University
Growing up in Statesville NC, Jessica Lellie was her obsessed with art and creativity. She knew from a young age that her creativity was something she had to grow. She went on to receive an Associates of Fine Arts from Mitchell Community College while in high school at Collaborative College of Tech and Leadership, and then a Bachelor of Studio Arts from Appalachian State University. After graduating she also fell in love with summer camp and outdoor education. She stepped away from traditional art for several years for the creative expression and service of cooking for camps in Georgia and Southern California.
Jessica has traveled to several different states and countries, where she has grown and forged connections in diverse communities all over the world. She is excited to be able to share her skills and experiences, to inspire others to take chances, and to engage with new communities. She is prepared to recognize her privilege so that she can learn to see beyond it and connect with students in real and genuine ways. Jessica is excited to tap into the richness and possibility of the arts with her students this year while serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Philadelphia.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: General Philip Kearny School Graduate of: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Julianna Boylan is a graduate of the University of Illinois, where she completed her BFA in Dance. Throughout her time as a dance major, she intensified her passion for thinking critically about art, manipulating bodies in time and space to create new dance works, and sharing her love of dance with others by performing and teaching. She has performed in works by Charli Brissey, Jennifer Monson, and Renée Wadleigh, and has provided dramaturgical support to Leah Wilks and Linda Lehovec. The culmination of her studies, an investigation with three dancers, debuted at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in April 2018.
She is excited to further her passion for dance and youth engagement as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Philadelphia.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Juniata Park Academy Graduate of: Bard College
Kayla Bobalek is a dancer who is fighting to find a balance between her rule-following nature and the questioning, challenging qualities that come with being a critically engaged artist. Her dance background frames this conflict for her. She grew up studying classical ballet under the instruction and mentorship of Elizabeth Drucker-Treadwell, a former New York City Ballet dancer. The discipline and structure of ballet suited Kayla’s schedule-oriented and hardworking tendencies. However, when she started studying postmodern and dance composition at Bard College, she found that she needed to embrace flexibility. Elements of play, pleasure, experimentation, and failure became important for her to grasp—all values that had not entered into her ballet training.
Over time she learned to trust that things happen as a process. She learned that following her own movement interests was a more valuable contribution to a community than successfully getting all the steps right while in striving for a singular idea of perfection. Kayla has come to recognize communal growth as greater than individual successes. This is a lesson she is excited to share with her students while she serves as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps fellow.
Recently she has been studying hip hop, house, waacking, and break dancing. These styles allow her to experiment with melding the value systems she has gained from ballet and postmodern dance/composition. Kayla is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Mixed Media Artist
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Swenson Arts and Technology High School Graduate of: University of South Wales
Kelsey Taylor is a mixed media artist from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Art was Kelsey’s favorite subject from a very young age, and she developed her traditional art skills all the way through high school. She attended University of South Wales and graduated with a degree in Computer Animation. Kelsey was inspired to go into computer animation by amazing storytelling in animated movies, like Pixar’s Up. She also has a particular interest in using digital media for marketing. She has experience making short animations and graphics for small companies and charities. Supporting nonprofits, working for charities, and volunteering is very important to Kelsey. Through high school, Kelsey worked on a service project in a nursing home and children’s center, amounting to over 60 hours of service. She also raised funds and volunteered for research foundations like JDRF. During college, Kelsey volunteered as her school’s International Student Rep. After graduating, she spent a year working full time at a student’s charity in the UK. In her spare time, Kelsey loves to play video games. She also enjoys going to the park and spending time with her dog, a basset mix named Bentley. She is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Cayuga School Graduate of: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; University of Pennsylvania
Madeleine Smith is a visual artist from Philadelphia. She began her undergraduate studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as a Painting major and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BFA. These institutions sparked her strong interest in painting from direct observation. Often her paintings depict a still life with an assortment of objects that she has consciously selected. As the painting evolves over days or weeks so does her understanding of those objects and their relationship to space. This process of acute visual examination is what makes painting exciting for her. When she is not painting in her studio, Madeleine is a freelance scenic painter for local theatres. She enjoys working on large projects that require a team of artists to construct production sets. One of the most exciting parts of her work is seeing the set come to life on stage with lighting and actors interacting with it. Madeleine is enthusiastic to contribute her artistic abilities with students in the Philadelphia community as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow. The art room was an integral part of her time in school and she hopes to help enrich students’ learning experiences through participation in the arts.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Thomas A. Edison High School Graduate of: University of Southern Mississippi
A native Venezuelan, violinist Manuela Romero began her violin performance and education career at the Conservatory of Music Simon Bolívar and the Latin-American Academy of Violin in Caracas, Venezuela. Manuela came to the U.S. to study with Dr. Stephen Redfield at the University of Southern Mississippi where she received her Masters Degree in Violin Performance in May 2018. She served as the concertmaster at the University of Southern Mississippi Orchestra from 2017-2018. She has been a prize winner in numerous competitions and performed as a member of the Young Symphony Orchestra of Caracas, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and the Venezuela Symphonic Orchestra. She was concertmaster for a European tour with the chamber music ensemble ARAMAC, and a participant in the Northern Lights Music Festival in Minnesota.
Passionate about teaching students of all ages, Manuela taught violin in Venezuela for over ten years with the renowned El Sistema program. Since 2016, she taught in Hattiesburg, Mississippi at William Carey University and University of Southern of Mississippi’s Suzuki violin program, and at the Hattiesburg Public School District for K-8 graders. Manuela is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Multimedia Digital Artist
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Young Scholars Charter School Graduate of: Camden County College, Rutgers University
Michael Blumenthal was born in Philadelphia. He has a BFA from Rutgers University, and an Associates Degree in Video Production/Computer Graphics from Camden County College. Art has been part of his life as far back as he can remember, as both of his parents came from an artistic background. They encouraged him to create every chance they could, and they instilled in him an appreciation for the artistic process. He would watch cartoons as a child and his dad would say, “Look how good the sketch work is, look at the shadowing, all of that is made with only a pencil, do you know how much work goes into making this?” After opening his eyes to thinking like that, Michael was able to spot the artistry in everything.
Sports is another one of his passions, with football being his favorite. At age 15 Michael was hired as a ball boy with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also spent three seasons working with NFL Films developing newly shot NFL game footage. He has also dabbled in acting, and was a Background Actor in the 2006 Disney Movie Annapolis starring James Franco and Tyrese Gibson. He was lucky enough to have the chance to go back to school to acquire his degrees, so that he can continue working in a field that he loves. He now works with many different clients, from many different backgrounds, doing freelance photography and graphic design. Michael is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Filmmaker & Musician
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Franklin Learning Center Graduate of: St. John’s University
Payton Berry is a singer/songwriter, filmmaker, photographer, and writer. Payton received her Bachelor of Science degree from St. John’s University where she studied dramatic arts, film, and television. Following graduation, she lived and worked between New York City and Los Angeles as a freelance vocalist, host for open mic events, script writer, and set equipment manager.
Throughout her academic and artistic experiences, Payton has felt a calling towards service. Originally from Hagerstown, Maryland, Payton served as a volunteer mentor for three years at Pearls4Girls, helping young girls succeed in schoolwork and life. Now living in Philadelphia as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow, Payton hopes to be a teaching-artist who will consistently show up for her students in order to inspire them to show up for themselves outside of the classroom.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Samuel Powel School Graduate of: University of Pittsburgh
Pearl Galido is a painter and printmaker from Philadelphia. She recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with dual degrees — a BA in Studio Art and a BS in Chemistry. Much of her work focuses on the intersection of art and science. This past spring, she participated in a collaborative artist residency with the Physics Department at the University of Pittsburgh. She studied nanoparticles and quantum mechanics during her residency, with the goal of using visual art to respond to the work of current researchers.
In her free time, Pearl enjoys visiting museums and art galleries, hiking, playing guitar, dancing, napping, thrifting and picking berries. During her time as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow, she hopes to promote interdisciplinary studies, diversity, and inclusion through the arts. She believes art can act as a bridge to connect people, places, and ideas. After her service year, Pearl plans to pursue a degree in medicine.
Visual Artist & Bookmaker
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Richard R. Wright School Graduate of: Lake Forest College
Qiaira Riley is a painter and bookmaker who aspires to work in social practice. Proudly born and raised on the southside of Chicago, she graduated Cum Laude from nearby Lake Forest College with a double major in Studio Art and African American Studies. Qiaira is passionate about breaking down the white walls that have traditionally kept art from being accessible to communities of color. She is interested in how art can benefit underserved populations by empowering them to express their realities. She has a range of experience in this space, from teaching art to young girls in South Africa to doing research with Northwestern University’s Art History Department. Ultimately, Qiaira plans to pursue a MFA in social practice, and a PhD in Arts Education, with a focus on making arts education more accessible and culturally responsive for black women and girls. Qiaira likes to spend her free time reading, trying new restaurants, thrift shopping, and watching reruns of A Different World or The Office. She is excited to be exploring and serving Philadelphia as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow this year!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: James Logan School Graduate of: Franklin and Marshall College
Quanece Thompson is an actor from Bronx, New York. She attended KIPP NYC College Prep for high school where she graduated with honors. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Franklin and Marshall College, Quanece performed in various shows as an undergraduate including: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, ‘Night, Mother’, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Act a Lady. She has traveled to London to train at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and while there, studied Shakespeare, puppetry, mask work, acting, movement, and voice. This past summer, Quanece attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to strengthen her audition techniques before starting her journey with ArtistYear.
Quanece believes that the arts have the power to promote social change in communities throughout the world. Not only does the theater excite Quanece, but also it has provided her with an escape to unwind and express her artform to the world. She recognizes the power that theater has to bring people together and wishes to share that with her students. She is looking forward to serving as a teaching artist this year, and to learning from her students as well. Quanece xcited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Paul Robeson High School Graduate of: New York University
Rebecca Arthur grew up in Syracuse, New York and lived in New York City for the past four years while studying photography at New York University (NYU). She graduated with a BFA in 2018. Her work is comprised mostly of self-portraiture and documentary photo. While working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Strategic Partnerships Office, Rebecca photographed innovators creating pioneering technologies in their fields. She considers herself a huge science nerd. She works with alternative processes photography, making photos on glass plates and mixing hazardous chemicals in a face and eye mask—fulfilling her science dreams.
When she’s not taking pictures you can find her reading, trying out new coffee spots, singing, writing, embroidering clothes or thrift shopping. She loves animals a lot and hopes to one day own chickens. Rebecca is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Walter B. Saul High School Graduate of: Bloomsburg University
Shaakirah Bradshaw graduated from Bloomsburg University in 2016, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English; she is a member of the International English Honor Society. While at Bloomsburg University she minored in Dance and was a teacher and member of the University’s dance ensemble. Shaakirah also co-founded a dance organization known as “The Movement” that taught classes to other students on campus. As a dance instructor, Shaakirah is has experience working with students at summer camps teaching dance and as a camp counselor. She also taught hip-hop for an after school dance club at the Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter High School. These experiences led her and have helped prepare her to serve as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow. In her spare time, Shaakirah can be seen dancing for the The Philadelphia Soul Arena Football.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Bayard Taylor School Graduate of: East Stroudsburg University
Shanice Dailey is a visual artist who focuses on graphic design. She recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in Art and Design from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. Her work focuses on brand identity, 3D, and fine art. She has been an instructor at a STEAM Art Camp in New York. She worked with children ages 6-9 on arts curriculum that included studying pieces in museums and supporting them with design projects.
Shanice is enamored with urban life and can often be found out in the city. She takes initiative to do things to better the world around her. She is working to use her artistry to help others find their voices within their communities. Shanice is excited to serve as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Philadelphia and partake in her love of art while helping young children at the same time.
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Alain Locke School Graduate of: Temple University
Current Philadelphia-based artist Sophiann Mahalia moved from Hartford, Connecticut to receive her BFA in Dance Choreography and Performance from Temple University. Sophiann graduated Summa Cum Laude and had the honor of being the recipient of the Rose Vernick Most Promising Performers Award. Sophiann’s dance credentials include Equilibrium Dance Theatre, D2D: Dare To Dance, and Kariamu & Company: Traditions. She has trained under Lee “Aca” Thompson, who has influenced artists such as Michael Peters, choreographer of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and Dr. Kariamu Welsh, creator of the Umfundalai technique. She has studied West African, Modern, Ballet, Hip hop, Waacking, and Umfundalai with AQiida Gilbert, Dara Stevens-Meredith, Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Jillian Harris, Jolet Creary, Kun Yang Lin, Laura Katz Rizzo, Lee “Aca” Thompson, and Stephen Hankey. Sophiann Mahalia explores dance through her own experiences of the black dancing body. Using her fusion of african, hip hop, and waacking, she promotes the limitless and regal qualities of womxn and the black body through dance. She is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Benjamin B. Comegys School Graduate of: Kalamazoo College
Sophie Taylor-Havens is excited by messes, sunshine, and making. Originally from Westminster West, Vermont she moved to Philadelphia in 2016, after graduating from Kalamazoo College where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Studio Art. As a socially-engaged, 3D and installation artist, Sophie often works with found objects and likes to use accessible materials. She is also inspired by youth and laughter.
She has years of experience working with young people as a camp counselor and a teaching assistant at various programs. Since moving to Philadelphia, she has worked as a teaching artist for Mural Arts and is eager to continue learning about the world of teaching artistry. During her service year, she hopes to support her students to use art as a way to create space for their voices and take ownership over their own education. Sophie is looking forward to engaging with the arts and education communities in Philadelphia throughout her time as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow.
Animator & Multimedia Digital Artist
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Hill-Freedman World Academy Graduate of: Full Sail University
Stephen Hands is a photographer, videographer, writer, and animator. He was raised in a small town in the Greater Philadelphia area. Prior to serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow, he was a Teaching Assistant at Mary D-Lang Elementary School in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In 2015 he obtained a BS in Computer Animation from Full Sail University, and began traveling abroad and across the country making videos and taking photographs.
Stephen has maintained a freelance and travel lifestyle. As a professional artist he has worked as a Production Assistant for Dash Radio in Hollywood. His eye for the subtle things are what give his shots the depth to draw the viewer in closer, and watch again. His caricatures and animations showcase his true personality, and proving he is not afraid to jump into different mediums and spectrums of the art world. Stephen is excited to be in Philadelphia and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Dr. Ethel Allen School Graduate of: Albright College
A native of Philadelphia, Timothy Resch is a graduate of Albright College with a Bachelor of Arts in Art. He has been interested in art from a young age, and found that the art studios were his favorite spaces in school as he got older. He recognizes the importance of those spaces and remembers the art teachers who always made him feel safe and valued. As an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow, Tim hopes to emulate those teachers and create similar artistic communities for his own students.
As a visual artist Tim’s work focuses primarily on abstract painting. The medium he primarily works with is called encaustic paint, a mixture of oil paint and melted beeswax diffused together. It allows him to thicken the oil paint and to embed images and light objects to his work. The most important thing to him about his artwork is how other people respond to it through their own interpretations. When he is not working on art he loves to watch movies, spend time with his family, and be anywhere outdoors!
Classical Guitarist & Composer
Service Location: Philadelphia School Placement: Charles W. Henry School Graduate of: University of Alabama at Birmingham; University of Denver
Will Brobston is a classical guitarist and composer from Huntsville, Alabama. His formal training in music began at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Technology with departmental honors. During his time at UAB, Will performed in concerts as a solo guitarist as well as with guitar ensembles, jazz combos, and computer music ensembles. In 2017, Will completed a Masters program with dual concentration in Composition and Guitar Performance and at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. At Lamont, Will studied guitar with Jonathan Leathwood and Ricardo Iznaola while working as a graduate teaching assistant. Studying under Chris Malloy and William Hill, Will’s compositions have ranged from solo guitar and chamber piece to orchestral works.
Will completed his first service year as a 2018 ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. He is excited to have relocated to Philadelphia to pursue an additional year of service with ArtistYear. As a teaching artist, Will aspires to share his passion for music and tap into the hidden creativity and artistry within all of his students.
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: PS 243 – Louis Armstrong Elementary Graduate of: Five Towns College
Brian Dumont is a musician and composer from Wantagh, New York. He is the bandleader of the jazz/fusion group Steel Jazz Trio & Friends. After beginning classical guitar at age 11, Brian took interest in learning the pedal steel guitar during a private lesson at Five Towns College in 2014. Since then, he has studied with phenomenal steel guitarist John Widgren. The complex, harmonically-driven instrument continually yields sessions and performances across a range of styles—country, western swing, rock, blues, jazz, and fusion music.
Brian’s work as an after school music teacher helped him discover his passion for teaching music. He is excited to serve as a teaching artist as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow to deepen his classroom experience as a stepping stone to teaching professionally throughout his career. From Brian’s own experiences, he has seen how the simple pleasure of creating art can contribute positively to a student’s growth, which is why he is a believer in promoting equity in arts education for all young people.
Percussionist & Composer
Service Location: Queens, NYC
School Placement: TBD
Graduate of: The Hartt School, University of Hartford
Percussionist and composer Corey Garcia was born into an artistic family and has been immersed in the New York jazz scene from a very young age. Early formative experiences for the Queens native included regular ventures to the city’s storied jazz clubs with his dad, as well as an elementary school trip to the Metropolitan Opera. Captivated by the mastery and grace displayed by these first-class musicians, Corey was soon banging on pots and pans, emulating his new heroes. Even as he began training formally and performing as a choral singer, he continued to practice on a makeshift drum set of his creation, self-taught until the 7th grade. He went on to study jazz and classical percussion at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, where he also developed a serious interest in creating original music.
Corey has received various recognition for his performance and compositions, most recently as a 2017 Ravinia Steans Music Institute Fellow. He received his Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz Studies from The Hartt School, University of Hartford. While living in Hartford, he assisted an ensemble and taught privately at the Artists’ Collective (founded by jazz musicians Jackie McLean and Paul Brown), where he realized that access to the arts had the potential to energize and empower an underserved community. Corey is humbled by the opportunity to bring his creative energy into a classroom setting and support the next generation of great artists in his own community as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Queens, New York!
Designer & Media Artist
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: Q 744- Voyages Preparatory Graduate of: UCLA
Giancarlos Campos is a Graphic Designer and Media Artist from Los Angeles, California. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and received a BA in Design Media Arts in 2016. In addition to numerous awards, fellowships, and exhibitions, he has experience working with youth-focused programming. While at UCLA he was a member of the Social Awareness Network for Activism through Art (SANAA), a multi-racial organization aimed at promoting the expression of social justice concerns through the use of art in a community-based space. His work with SANAA included mentoring high school students at Compton YouthBuild, facilitating workshops on the intersections of activism and visual art, and developing an arts-based curriculum to empower youth and raise critical consciousness. He has primarily worked as a graphic designer for social justice and non-profit organizations. Giancarlos is deeply committed to carving out a space for Central American/Diasporic cultural production, and to advocating for more equitable arts education among low-income communities. He sees being an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow as an opportunity to develop the pedagogical skills necessary to nourish the next generation of creatives, while also serving and encouraging the children who need it the most.
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: TBD Graduate of: University of New Hampshire
Hannah Medovnikov was raised outside of New Haven, Connecticut in a community where art and creativity was encouraged and fostered. She went on to receive a BA from the University of New Hampshire, majoring in Ceramics. For the past eight years she has worked in studios and community art spaces across Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine.
She recognizes that equity in arts education can provide children from all backgrounds with creative outlets while empowering them to think abstractly and solve problems. Hannah recognizes that the arts can foster better understandings of intersectionality—which she sees as crucial in striving towards for all people. As an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow, she hopes to bring the confidence and creative outlet that art has provided her throughout her childhood and early adulthood to her students in Queens, New York.
Illustrator & Muralist
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: J.H.S. 185 Edward Bleeker Graduate of: School of Visual Arts
Ibrahima Wann is an illustrator and muralist, born and raised in Guinea in West Africa. He was exposed to the art world at a very young age because his father is an artist. At the age of 12 he moved to New York. He went to a few art programs and started selling his work to his roommates when he was 18. Ibrahima studied fine arts, illustration, and cartooning at the School of Visual Arts, where he graduated with a BFA.
He has teaching experience as an after school art instructor at Bronx Haven High School and has taught private art classes to both children and adults. As a professional artist, Ibrahima has painted murals for Sony, Macquarie Group, NYC Service, various schools, and multiple charitable organizations. He has illustrated a children’s book, Khalil Goes to Pre-school.
His favorite painter is Jean Michel Basquiat and his favorite singer is Bob Marley. When Ibrahima is not painting, he is probably thinking about painting. Ibrahima is all about peace, love, and unity. He excited to be in New York City and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: PS 171Q Peter G. Van Alst Graduate of: Ithaca College
Jasmeene Francois is an arts educator, Applied Theatre Practitioner, and aspiring writer from Riverside, California. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Drama and History at Ithaca College in 2011. After graduating, she taught in English in Japan with the JET Programme for three years. Jasmeene then rejoined the theatre-making world and graduated with a Master’s degree in Applied Theatre from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. While in London, she worked as a drama workshop facilitator with Body and Soul Charity and Outside Edge Theatre Company. She was also a writing workshop assistant and intern at the Ministry of Stories, Production Assistant and performer with The Paper Project, and Festival Assistant for Talawa Theatre Company.
Most recently, Jasmeene has worked as the Education Manager at Rogue Artists Ensemble in Los Angeles. There she managed the day to day operations of the company’s education program, developed and facilitated theatre education workshops, and oversaw show rehearsals.
Jasmeene works to make the arts accessible to all. Although she mostly works with young people in schools, she also works with adults and researches inter-generational arts practices within different communities. In her free time, she is learning various ballroom and Afro-Caribbean dance styles. Jasmeene is excited to be in New York City and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: Q319 Village Academy Graduate of: Georgia State University
Jasmine Ebron is a biracial photographer who graduated from Georgia State University with a BFA in Studio Art, with a photography concentration, and a Minor in Philosophy. She has held various jobs ranging from a curator and photographer, to office administrator and HR coordinator.
She has extensive volunteer experience working with young adults. Most recently Jasmine assisted hospitalized teens in modeling, directed portrait sessions, and facilitated discussion groups. She sees art as a significant vessel for social change and political awareness, something she believes is important for young people to have access to in their education.
Jasmine’s love for and relationship with her family and friends are the driving force for her to be be successful and share meaningful impact, love, and support with others. Jasmine is excited to be in New York City and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: JHS 189 – Daniel Carter Beard Graduate of: University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Jermaine Faith Guillergan was born in Iloilo, Philippines and grew up in the small town of Sanford, North Carolina. After several years of nursing school, she decided to pursue a childhood dream: a career in the arts. Her experience in nursing school taught her the value of art as a conduit for healing and communication. It remains integral to her work as she strives to create pieces that resonate with others and are human-centric at their core.
Jermaine is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a BFA and a concentration in illustration. While pursuing her degree, Jermaine found art to be a portal through which she could better address complex issues stemming from her own personal experiences and current discourse in the world around her. She believes that every child should be given the opportunity to express themselves in whatever artistic medium they choose. Equity in arts education is important to Jermaine because she sees that the healing and empowering qualities of art can positively transform an individual’s thoughts and actions. Jermaine is excited to be in New York City and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Actor & Dancer
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: PS 273 Graduate of: Williams College
Josephine (JoJo) McDonald is a theater artist and tap dancer from Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts. Her love of theater started from a young age at Shakespeare and Company, where she participated in various youth programs and later taught at their summer camp. There she learned the importance of accessible arts for all, collaboration, and community building through theater, which she continues to strive for in her work. Favorite roles include Constance in King John (Shakespeare and Company Fall Festival), The Messenger in Les Faux Pas (Shakespeare and Company), and Muriel MacDonagh in Of One Allegiance Only (Cap and Bells, Williams College). She attended Williams College, where she double majored in English and French, and participated in an a cappella, student-run theater, and dance classes throughout the department. After graduating she worked with her own tap teacher Stefanie Weber on the project They Dance For Rain, a non-profit that collaborates with arts-for-social-change organizations in Nairobi, Kenya. She also worked with Community Access to the Arts (CATA), a program that provides arts programming to adults living with disabilities. JoJo is excited to be serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in New York City! She hopes to help all her students find joy in the arts. When she is not teaching or rehearsing, JoJo enjoys biking, running in Central Park, and hiking in the Berkshire Hills when she visits her parents.
Singer & Songwriter
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: Collaborative Arts Middle School Graduate of: Berklee College of Music
Kaya Rand (artist name Kaya Nova) is a 24-year-old R&B singer-songwriter and producer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She holds a BA in Vocal Performance from Spelman College and a Master’s degree in Contemporary Performance and Production from Berklee College of Music. As a student and professional musician, Kaya has trained in both classical and contemporary styles such as jazz, musical theatre, pop, and R&B. She performed in major cities across the U.S. including Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, and abroad in Valencia, Spain.
In addition to her deep passion for music, Kaya has a love for community service and teaching, having worked as a private voice coach and leading community initiatives with children. Kaya ultimately hopes to help usher in a new generation of young people who feel empowered through the arts, and who are equipped with resources and knowledge to ensure they can one day pursue arts-related careers. Kaya is excited to be in New York City and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Singer and Songwriter
Service Location: Queens, NYC
School Placement: TBD
Graduate of: Virginia State University
Kierah Thompson is singer-songwriter from Long Island, New York. Kierah’s passion for the arts began at a young age, through her families’ musical background, and singing in school. In 2017 she graduated with BA in Music, with a concentration in Vocal Performance, from Virginia State University. Kierah has been trained in classical music; she has also studied contemporary genres such as jazz, R&B, pop, musical theatre, and gospel with professional musicians. During her time at Virginia State University, she performed in the University’s concert choir ensemble and was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, Inc. Following graduation, Kierah worked as a substitute teacher and assistant teacher for general elementary music, after-school, and summer music theatre programs.
Kierah has long been dedicated to community service and believes that the arts has the power to uplift those with promise universally. Music has provided her and her loved ones with a therapeutic escape, unifying and enabling them to express their experiences with others. Kierah hopes to share this impact with her students and to earn from their artistic expression as well. She is looking forward to serving as a teaching artist this year and is thrilled to be serving in New York City as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: East Elmhurst Community School Graduate of: School of Visual Arts
Kiersten Oteyza is a photographer from Bel Air, Maryland. She holds a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York. After graduating, she worked with an instructor there as a teaching assistant for studio classes. Kiersten has extensive experience as a professional and freelance photographer as well.
Kiersten is extremely passionate about art and how it can affect our society, especially the youth. It is an honor and calling for her to serve in arts education this year as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in New York City. She wants to help others achieve their dreams and aspirations. In particular, Kiersten seeks to help those individuals who might not otherwise have the resources and income to support their passions. She wishes to educate and guide others in a positive direction. She is confident that this service year will give her the opportunity to share her skills as well as the love and care she has for the artist community.
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: PS 143 – Louis Armstrong Elementary Graduate of: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Kylie Zahl is a visual artist and recent transplant from Los Angeles. She has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a specialization in Art Therapy. Most recently she worked for the Boys and Girls Club as their Arts Coordinator. During her time there Kylie developed and implemented arts curriculum and mentored students ages 6-12. Prior to that she was also the Art Program Organizer at Richman Teen Center where she taught students ages 12-18 and facilitated the completion of a permanent on-site mural.
Kylie is passionate about art—both making it herself and helping others discover their own love for creation. During her experience as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps fellow, she hopes to learn how to better mentor young people through art and foster a creative community. Ultimately, Kylie would like to become an onboard art therapist at a nonprofit working with youth suffering from trauma. She like comics, podcasts, hiking, horror movies and sloths. She is excited to be in New York City and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Queens, NYC
School Placement: TBD
Graduate of: University of Nevada-Reno
Monique McField is a visual artist. She developed an avid interest in art the moment she could hold a pencil, making her father teach her how to draw her first cat at the age of 2. She prioritized her academics, and would often integrate art to supplement her learning. Monique attended the University of Nevada-Reno and received a degree in both Psychology and Studio Art, with a focus on charcoal and oil paint.
Following her graduation in 2016, Monique volunteered abroad in Sri Lanka where she assisted children and adults with mental illnesses and developmental disorders, through various therapeutic activities, as well as taught English and elementary education. Through her time spent abroad, along with her time spent working as a psychosocial rehabilitation worker following her return, Monique developed a passion for working with children in underserved communities.
Monique hopes to one day start a non-profit aimed at enhancing arts education for underserved youth while encouraging them to pursue their artistic passions. She is thrilled to be serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Queens, New York!
Visual Artist & Photographer
Service Location: Queens, NYC School Placement: MS318 – Waterside School for Leadership Graduate of: Georgia State University
Teal Korby Gordon is a conceptual artist who works mainly in photography, drawing, and painting. Underlying themes throughout her work include perception, contemporary image culture, and art theory. She has a passion for child development using creative and flexible methods to individualize growth. She enjoys organizing art initiatives to benefit groups that are not always exposed to arts as part of their education or therapy.
In 2017, Teal acquired a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography at Georgia State University. During her time there, she initiated and completed a thesis questioning the effect of using photography-based media when making art with kids affected by autism. The thesis concluded with an exhibition of work by two young kids affected by autism. Teal is excited to draw upon her experiences to serve as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Queens, NY this year.
Musician & Ethnomusicologist
Service Location: New York City School Placement: TBD Graduate of: Amherst College
Vocalist and ethnomusicologist, Tomal Hossain graduated from Amherst College in 2017 with degrees in music and computer science. With newfound passions for jazz, choral music, and digital audio, Tomal also holds a Five College certificate in ethnomusicology with a focus in sacred sound and voice studies. In 2017, he was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and has since been investigating the permissibility of arts production and consumption in Islam throughout seven Muslim majority countries. As part of his coursework and travels, Tomal has studied and practiced a number of traditional musics including karawitan jawa tengah, shashmaqom, and al-musiqa al-arabiyyah. He intends for his efforts as an ethnomusicologist and music educator to bridge ethnic, national, and religious divisions, to counter hegemonic and extremist forces, and to revitalize traditional arts and culture.
As a vocalist, Tomal specializes in traditional South Asian music having been mentored by such renowned musicians as Kishore Chakraborty, Sujit Mustafa, Mazhar Hussain, and Nabendu Bhattacharya. From 2008-2013, he volunteered at the Bangladesh Academy of Los Angeles as an assistant music instructor. He has shared the stage with household Bangladeshi names such as Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, Ferdous Ara, and Rizia Parveen, and Hindustani musicians including Salar Nader and Ashish Sankrityayan. He has received accolades for his performances at the Indo-American Community Theatre annual competitions, the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America (FOBANA) annual cultural conventions, and the North American Bengali Conference (NABC) annual cultural conventions. Tomal is excited to be in New York City and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Roaring Fork Valley, CO School Placement: The Roaring Fork School District Graduate of: University of La Verne
Andrew Medina is a graduate from the University of La Verne (ULV) in Southern California with a Bachelors of Arts in Music. Originally from the San Gabriel Valley, he grew up playing the trumpet in his local marching band and jazz band. During his college experience, Andrew’s Latinx culture led him to study and perform other genres of music such as Latin Jazz and Salsa. He also had the opportunity to study and live in the wonderful country of Ecuador during his senior year at ULV.
For several years, Andrew worked as the music director of the YMCA in San Gabriel Valley, building and facilitating the musical curriculum for summer camp programming. Drawing upon these experiences, he hopes to teach with a culturally-conscious open mind as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley this year. In his free time, Andrew enjoys all forms of outdoor recreation.
Service Location: Roaring Fork, CO School Placement: Roaring Fork Valley School District Graduate of: Grand Canyon University
Arturo (Art) Williams is a pianist, actor, and writer from Dallas, Texas. He holds a BA in Music with an emphasis in Piano Performance from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona where he studied voice under Christopher Herrera and classical piano under Dr. Jelena Vladikovic. During his time in the desert Arturo pursued studies ranging from music history and theory to screenwriting and literature courses, while honing performance skills as a member of the Grand Canyon University Wind Ensemble, multiple choral ensembles, solo piano performance, and staged plays. Through these diverse interests he discovered a core connection between his artistic passions: storytelling. Whether through music, dramatic text, or another medium, Arturo is committed to art’s ability to connect people from around the world through a story being shared.
He believes art is crucial to our society, and our understanding of ourselves and the world around us—whether connecting audiences with the purity of a Beethoven sonata or the profundity of a modern dramatic monologue—and to pass it down new generations so that they may discover and share their voices. He considers serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow an enormous opportunity as it empowers him to do just that.
Service Location: Roaring Fork, CO School Placement: Roaring Fork Valley School District Graduate of: Central Michigan University; University of Northern Colorado
A Colorado native, Breana Meyers is currently finishing her Doctorate of Arts in Percussion Performance with a secondary emphasis in Jazz History at the University of Northern Colorado. Committed to music education, Breana was an instructor throughout her graduate studies at Central Michigan University and the University of Northern Colorado, teaching the percussion methods course for music education majors, percussion ensembles, drumline and pit ensemble in marching band, and private lessons to undergraduate percussion majors. Breana has had the privilege of studying with influential teachers including Michael Truesdell, Jim White, Andrew Spencer, Gray Barrier, Julie Strom, and Chris Smith. Although Breana enjoys playing many styles of music, she is passionate about contemporary music and is continuously working on new projects. Recently, she commissioned and performed three new percussion pieces, including one written by the talented composer Paul Elwood. Breana is also a strong advocate for the equality of women in music. She is currently doing research on the biases and struggles that women face in the field of percussion. It is her hope to help bring awareness to the subject and improve conditions for aspiring female musicians of all ages. In the future, Ms. Meyers hopes to perform and teach domestically and abroad, and plans to open a non-profit organization that will benefit the artists in the community around her. She looks forward to serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow and providing educational growth through music for students in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado.
Service Location: Roaring Fork Valley, CO School Placement: Roaring Fork School District Graduate of: Oklahoma City University
Henry Bayless is a guitarist, conductor, and educator from Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated with high honors from Oklahoma City University in May 2017 with a Masters degree in Performance and is a member of the national music honors society Pi Kappa Lambda. While pursuing his Masters degree he directed the Oklahoma City Guitar Orchestra, was a guitar instructor at John Marshall Mid High School, and served twice as a guest conductor at the Celedonio Romero Institute leading an ensemble with the members of Los Romeros Guitar Quartet. Henry has performed throughout the southwest alongside the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Bill Kanengiser, and Pepe Romero. Since 2008 Henry has studied extensively with Chuck Hulihan, Frank Koonce, Matt Denman, and Lynn McGrath. Early into his career Henry developed a strong taste for twentieth-century and contemporary music; studying the music of well-known guitarist composers Leo Brouwer and Sergio Assad. His appreciation for the avant-garde has led him to arranging some of his favorite compositions for the guitar. In 2017 he arranged the second movement from Béla Bartók’s second string quartet and performed it later that year. He is currently working on arranging other works by Bartók and hopes to have them published. In addition to his love for music, Henry has a strong appreciation for the outdoors. When he is not practicing, teaching, or arranging, he enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and camping. Henry is a passionate person who values inclusiveness, collaboration, and creativity. Henry is excited to be in Roaring Fork Valley and serving as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow!
Service Location: Roaring Fork, CO School Placement: Roaring Fork Valley School District Graduate of: University of Michigan; Cleveland Institute of Music
Salvadoran-American cellist Roberto Arundale, is a soloist, educator, and chamber and orchestral musician, and a 2018 recipient of the Sphinx Organization’s MPower Artist Grant. Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Roberto has soloed with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and West Valley Chamber Orchestra. Roberto was a recent finalist and the audience favorite in the Ekstrand Memorial Graduate Competition. An avid chamber musician, Roberto has collaborated with members of the Ying and Cavani string quartets as well as Edgar Meyer, and has participated in master classes for members of the Juilliard, Cleveland, Takács, American, Kronos, and Shanghai String Quartets. He has performed on Morning Classical Music on MPBN, Maine Public Radio. As an orchestral musician, Roberto served for two summers as Principal Cellist Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School. He has also held Principal Cello positions in the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, University of Colorado Boulder Symphony Orchestra, Bowdoin Festival Orchestra, and the West Valley Chamber Orchestra.
An avid teacher, Roberto has taught privately and as a teaching assistant at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Roberto has received undergraduate and graduate degrees in cello performance and Suzuki pedagogy from the University of Michigan and Cleveland Institute of Music. He is a current doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder. Roberto is thrilled to dedicate his service year as an ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellow to Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley string students, schools, and community.